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Manhattan Community Board 4’s Transportation Planning Committee (MCB4) praised the extended pedestrian space on 9th Avenue — known as a “truffle” because of the gray-brown color used by the DOT — at their meeting last night, and said it should be expanded. But they also called for action against NYPD cruisers occupying the new sidewalks on 9th and 8th Avenues.

This 11-foot wide stretch along the east side of 9th Avenue from 58th to 50th Streets has been reclaimed for pedestrians with board members saying they make a point to utilize the full width of it whenever possible. A similar extension is being installed on the avenue from 30th to 34th Streets, and the Committee hopes DOT will connect these to create one continuous path from 30th to 58th Streets. 

A cop car “squatting” on the extended 9th Avenue sidewalk at 54th Street this week. Photo: MCB4/Charlie Todd

On a recent walk along the truffle, MCB4 member Tina Nelson was scolded by a bicyclist for not “being on the sidewalk” and told: “Get out the bike lane, lady.” Delivery workers and cyclists have been spotted utilizing the painted extension when the narrow bike lane gets too crowded, members said.

Bikes aren’t the only vehicles blocking the new walkways. MBC4 member Charlie Todd showed a picture of an NYPD cruiser straddling the extended sidewalk and the bike lane extension on 9th Avenue at W54th Street. He had another image of one of DOT’s own vehicles blocking the extension just a block away, at W53rd Street, taken Wednesday. Todd pointed out that it was replacing a sign and could easily have parked in the designated bay to do the work.

A DOT vehicle was blocking the sidewalk Wednesday on 9th Avenue at 53rd St – even though the extension was the DOT’s work. Photo: MCB4/Charlie Todd

But it was police cars on 9th and 8th Avenues which raised most concern. Viren Brahmbhatt, another committee member, highlighted the NYPD’s mobile command post that has been parked on the west side of 8th Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets since the summer of 2021, in one of the sidewalk extensions. “Police cars are permanently placed there. They have actually carved out a little spot for themselves. It’s like they moved the cars out, for themselves,” he said.

NYPD’s mobile command post has been parked on the west side of 8th Ave between W38/39th Street s since June 2021. Photo: Phil O’Brien

One resident who spoke at the meeting, Michael, said: “It’s completely fenced off like they own it. It completely dissects the whole experience that you get, that you worked so hard to do. They could just have moved the truck into the traffic lane.” The command post truck was stationed there in June 2021, to deter a rise in crime and open-air drug dealing, the NYPD told the Wall Street Journal at the time.

He added: “City officials, FDNY, NYPD, use it as free parking.” Safer streets advocate Jehiah Czebotar also highlighted NYPD “light trees” on 8th Avenue, which are intended to deter crime, and said: “If they don’t put people off using it, the exhaust fumes from generators certainly will.”

MCB4’s Transportation Planning Committee are to ask the DOT for help moving cruisers off extended sidewalks. Photo: MCB4/Zoom

Co-chair Christine Berthet said the obstacles placed by police in the sidewalk extension forced people into the bike lane “so we lose the use of the truffle space.” And co-chair Dale Corvino said: “Is traffic enforcement going to tow the NYPD vehicles that are parked on the truffle?” Berthet said, laughing: “Don’t be silly.”

The Committee is to write to the City DOT asking for help getting all vehicles, including NYPD, off the painted sidewalk extensions on both 8th and 9th Avenues. Corvino, the committee’s co-chair, said: “We will write an administrative letter saying ‘We need help. The NYPD is squatting on the truffle.'” 

The committee also heard details of the plan to deal with traffic caused by the imminent closure of the Holland Tunnel at nights, with the Lincoln Tunnel being the diversion for cars heading to New Jersey. W42ST revealed the closure Wednesday to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy a decade ago. The eastbound tunnel has been closed at night for the past two years, but next month work starts on the westbound, with far great potential to impact Hell’s Kitchen.

Port Authority officials outlined how they plan to deal with Hell’s Kitchen congestion caused by the closure. The officials project that the Lincoln Tunnel will receive as much as 83% of the Holland Tunnel’s traffic, with as many as 1,609 cars entering each hour at the busiest times, which they expect to be on Friday night. The most visible measure for Hell’s Kitchen residents will be NYPD traffic enforcement agents being deployed when the Holland Tunnel is closed, from 11pm, six nights a week from February 5. They will be stationed at the same spots which are used at rush hour.

This is where traffic agents will be stationed in Hell’s Kitchen late at night into the early hours for the congestion caused by the closure of the Holland Tunnel. Photo: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Some board members called for discounted or even free train and PATH travel to encourage what Corvino called drivers from “New Jersey’s predominant car culture” to use public transit to get in and out of the city when the Holland Tunnel is closed. But the Port Authority’s Hersh Parek said it could not afford such a measure, with the PATH trains only back to 55% of pre-pandemic usage already.


The weeknight closure schedule from New York to New Jersey will start on February 5, 2023:

  • Sunday night               11:00pm – 5:30am
  • Monday night              11:00pm – 5:30am
  • Tuesday night              11:00pm – 5:30am
  • Wednesday night        11:00pm – 5:30am
  • Thursday night            11:00pm – 5:30am
  • Friday night                 11:59pm – 9:00am
  • Saturday night             No Scheduled Closures 

PANYNJ says that the Sunday night closure may not be required every week. They are offering email alerts for updates about the works and have a construction updates page on their website.

Join the Conversation

18 Comments

  1. This was a terrible idea to begin with. What was basically a 4 lane avenue now reduced to 2 and 1 if a truck or bus is double parked. Gridlock traffic. Not good for emergency vehicles either.

    1. Emergency vehicles can always take the bike lane or the newly painted pedestrian space, unless of course they are blocked by random NYPD vehicles illegally sitting there. Pedestrians and cyclists vastly outnumber the vehicles in this area, yet you are suggesting that vehicles should be given more sace?

  2. Part of the problem is that these “sidewalk extensions” were created without any information provided to the public that that is what they are. There is no symbol on it to suggest it. It just looks like an area in the street that can be used by anyone. Why take a chance on getting hit by something by walking on it if itis not clear that it is supposed to be restricted to pedestrians?

    1. Agree there should be better signage. The plan has been in the works for years. Sidewalk expansions start with paint and then to concrete if they make it into a city capital plan. The latter is very expensive, so the paint is a good interim way to reclaim and better utilize the space. And the city likes to start there. See: https://w42st.com/post/were-reclaiming-a-lane-from-the-lincoln-tunnel-hells-kitchen-can-soon-take-a-walk-on-the-wide-side-of-9th-avenue/

  3. Too bad the inbound tube at the Holland Tunnel can’t be used in the reverse [outbound] direction, or at least a single lane in each direction, as done at other tunnels.

  4. I had no idea that these were sidewalk extensions! I’ve been wondering what they were–emergency vehicle lanes, garbage pickup lanes? It’s a great idea but signs need to be posted for proper usage. I’ve been walking out into the street for years to get around slower pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks, but the bikes are using the lane (I am biker myself) and they are going very fast so it’s still a danger. I agree that Ninth Avenue now is too narrow for traffic and emergency vehicles; but now maybe they can use the extension in an emergency and not get stuck. I don’t mind if police vehicles are stationed in an area with high reported crime. I’d rather had a response like that than none.

  5. I had no idea what these brown areas were actually designated for, even though I’m a local resident, read local news, stay moderately engaged in politics, and follow local politicians and news on social media and newsletters. This is the first news article I’ve actually seen that has informed me that they are pedestrian areas and that they are nicknamed “the truffle”. Why is there not more public outreach about this? No signage? No protection from the bike lane?

    It’s no wonder that cyclists are shouting at pedestrians and cops are taking it over. If people don’t know what the area is for, can anyone be surprised it’s a mess?

      1. That’s all well and good, Jeffrey, and I’m happy with more pedestrian areas, but if the public doesn’t actually know what these areas are for then the communication hasn’t gone very well. Even in the illustration in the article you linked, it looks like there is a white barrier/pole of some kind between the bike lane and the pedestrian area. That would make things clearer and safer.

        Again, I’m supportive of additional pedestrian space, but the way they are designed now feels pretty vulnerable, not only to cyclists but even to vehicles. They need “PEDESTRIAN ONLY” signage and some kind of physical separation from the bike lane.

        This also seems like a prime opportunity for a political photo op with local politicians walking in a large group on the new areas.

  6. While this is a busy area, the opening picture says it all.
    Was this needed, and where does the Community Board want the police to go?
    To a different neighborhood?

    As much as I used to like the restaurants in the area, driving on 9th Ave has become impossible, I have to say I have been avoiding the area lately all together and going to other areas of the city.

    1. I would be totally fine with police receiving one or more designated spots on every block in the lane dedicated to parking. It is public space that is given to the drivers for free, so we might as well make it work for the public. Also, if you choose drive in to dine in an area that has one of the biggest subway stations in the world with nearly every train line available… it is better for everyone that you don’t show up anymore.

  7. My husband thought these areas were either for delivery trucks or outdoor dining. Seriously, people in the neighborhood don’t know what these areas are for – how can we expect visitors and tourists to figure it out? They need signage and public outreach.

  8. Ditto to all of the comments about not ever hearing that this new so-called “truffle” area was designed for. Truffle?? Usually if sidewalks are widened, the curb is moved. I agree, too, that bicyclists are endangering pedestrians both here, and on the actual sidewalk! Are tickets ever given to bicyclists? I’ve nearly been smashed into many times.

      1. While the plan may have been in the works for years, Jeffrey, the plans for informing the public were inadequate. Those of us who live here had no idea this was coming, and there isn’t much in the way of signage to let us know what’s going on.

        1. You must be a new visitor to this website. They’ve only been talking about this for at least a year! They’ve even posted visuals about the extension and their purpose!

  9. Incredible to see so many misinformed residents! W42ST has done an incredible job at informing about these changes, so it’s bizzare to see commenters who I have to assume are readers of this publication to not be aware 🤷‍♂️

    Anywho… it will be even more evident when the sidewalk tables make their appearance then people will finally (hopefully) see the purpose of the extensions.

    1. I don’t think anyone is saying that W42St hasn’t done an excellent job informing the public. W42ST has been and continues to be fantastic. What I, and presumably others, are complaining about is the lack of outreach and signage from those who actually executed these plans. Where was the press unveiling? A ribbon cutting ceremony? Events utilizing these new spaces? Signage?

      This isn’t about W42ST, it’s about public outreach.

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